The Art of Barking Less.

This is the art of canine persuasion according to Tessa. She may look cute, but she’s serious as a heart attack.

“I want that treat. What more do I have to do before you give it to me?”

This is a conversation that we have every day, Tessa and I. It’s a lot like that time-worn, “What’s in it for me?” To answer that question, both of us have to want something.

And, we do.

Tessa wants instant gratification. “Feed me, now … please.”  Kind of like me when I’m hunting for chocolate.

“I want it now.”

I want a different kind of behavior from her. “Let’s not charge the fence and bark ferociously at 1) that guy who just stepped out of his huge lawnscaping truck or 2) my new neighbor out walking her 4 year old scottie or 3) the neighbors from down the street who have lived here for years out walking their daughter’s Jack Russell terrier, Ralph.

“And why not bark? It’s what I do.”

“Well, it’s noisy for one and irritatingly so.  And, you scare people when they walk by because they’re not expecting to hear that kind of racket. And, if Jasper’s out in the yard with you, your behavior prompts him to follow yours –  and that kind of life imitating life – a 160 pound Great Dane imitating an 18 pound whirling dervish creates even more noise and looks really scary from the other side of the fence. All of which starts a domino effect with the dogs who live two houses down from mine — and then there is a cacophony of noise that drives me nuts.”

So, maybe this is more about what I want than what Tessa wants.

Tessa’s yard busy from the moment she flies out the back door until I call her to come back inside. So much to see and to smell and to chase after and to react to. She’s a dog on a mission every minute. Back inside, she’s house busy – defending us from everything that’s outside that she perceives as a threat …  when she can get away with it. Which is not as much now as in the past.

I suspect that a good part of her busy-ness comes from a lack of socialization when she was younger – and rather than sympathize with her about this, it’s better to re-direct her.

How do I know this treatment plan is working?

Tessa’s less afraid of my husband than she was when she came to us almost three years ago. She’ll seek him out instead of backing away from or barking at him. This was a long time in coming and it’s still a work in progress.

Which is not all that different from everything that’s important in our lives – understanding that what’s important to each of us (whatever that is),  is a never-ending work in progress. That if we stop working, we can’t get any better than we are.  [gplus count=”true” size=”Medium” ]








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